Is There Hope?

Posted: March 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

hopeOne of my favorite Tom Hanks movies is “Cast Away”.  If you have not seen this movie, it is sort of a modern Robinson Crusoe story.  Tom Hanks plays a FedEx employee named Chuck Noland.  Early in the film, Chuck and several other employees are in a company plane when it crashes into the ocean, killing everyone except Noland.  The next day his life raft washes ashore on a deserted island, along with many FedEx packages from the plane.  Noland opens the packages, hoping to find useful items that will help him survive on the island.  One box contains a pair of ice skates.  You wouldn’t think that ice skates would be much help on a deserted tropical island, but Noland manages to use the laces for rope, he fashions one skate into a hatchet, and the other ends up being used later on as a dental tool (NOT my favorite scene in the movie).  He also finds a box of video tapes, which he braids into ropes, and another box contains a volleyball which he names “Wilson”.  Wilson becomes his only friend and companion on the island.  One of the boxes he finds has angel wings stamped on the outside next to the address, and he never opens that box.  He keeps it intact the entire four years he lives on the island.  When he finally builds a raft and escapes the island, he lashes this unopened package onto his raft and takes it with him.  In the final scene of the movie, Noland, now safely back in the United States, drives down a remote Texas highway with the unopened angel wings FedEx package in the passenger seat of his car.  He is returning the package to its original sender in rural Texas.  He finally arrives at the house and knocks on the door, but no one is home.  Noland places the box at the front door along with a note that says “This package saved my life”.  A few minutes later, the movie ends.  So what did Chuck Noland mean when he wrote “This package saved my life”?  He never opened it.  He never used its contents.  Yet he claims that it saved his life.  If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what he meant.  That package symbolized hope for Chuck Noland.  It represented his hope that someday he would leave the island, go home to family and friends and return that package.  It was quite literally a package of hope.  And that hope kept him going for four hard years on a deserted island.  At one point the endless drudgery and overwhelming loneliness of the island almost drove him to suicide.  But hope of returning home stopped him from going through with it.  “This package saved my life” said Noland.  But what he really meant was “hope saved my life.”

Hope was riding high on Palm Sunday when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem to adoring crowds lining the road with palm branches and shouting “Hosanna (save us)!”  His followers must have thought “this is it!”  They were expecting Jesus to take his rightful place as King, but now, just a few days later he was dead.  Little hope remained for the followers of Christ on Good Friday and on Saturday.  They saw their leader and friend betrayed, abandoned, placed on trial, mocked, beaten and crucified.  They watched as his bloodied, lifeless body was placed in a tomb.  The disciples of Jesus were utterly defeated.  They were devastated.  All hope had vanished.

Our reading from the Gospel of Mark tells us what happened next.  Early Sunday morning when the Sabbath was over, “Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus’ body”.  Can you imagine?  After 2 days of despair and grieving, they had to go to the tomb and face the reality of what had happened, the reality of failure and the reality of hopes dashed.  As they walked to the tomb, they wondered among themselves how they would move the stone from the entrance of the tomb.  As they drew closer, they saw that the stone had already been rolled away.  They went inside and rather than finding the body of their friend, they saw a man dressed in white, sitting on the right side, and they were afraid.  “Don’t be alarmed.” he said.  “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.”  He continued, “Go tell the disciples and Peter ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him just as he told you.’  Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.”

The women had gone to the tomb expecting death, but instead, they received words of hope.  They fled from the tomb bewildered because they were so sure of what they would find.  They were 100% convinced that they were going to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body … they did not even consider any other possibility.  They did not expect to find any light that would pierce their shadows … no comfort for their pain … no escape from the sad truth that lay in that tomb.  They did not expect that hope would miraculously shatter the darkness.

When Jesus arose, He proved once and for all who he is.  His resurrection demonstrates without a doubt that He is the Christ, the Messiah … truly He is the son of God.  And because of who He is, He can bring you hope no matter what you are going through.  If you have doubted the existence of God or turned your back on him, Jesus showed His wounds to Thomas and gave Peter the chance to overcome his denial.  He’ll do the same for you.  If you are in need of healing, the Bible is filled with stories of people who were healed and made whole by the touch of Jesus.  If you are going through storms in your life, you have the hope that Jesus can calm your storm or ride it out with you.  Sometimes Jesus calms the storm.  Sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms his child.

There is reassurance in the life of Jesus.  He came to live a human life because he loves us.  He loved us enough to go to the cross, saving us by dying in our place.  He took on our sins and all of our mistakes, and when he rose from the grave He gave us hope.  He gave us hope in life.  He also gave us the ultimate hope.  1 Corinthians tells us that “the last enemy to be defeated is death”.  Take to heart the words of John 3:16 – “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

When the women went to the tomb that Sunday morning, they found that the stone blocking the entrance had been rolled away.  We need to understand what this means.  The stone was not rolled away so that Jesus could get out.  The stone was rolled away so that we could get in.  The women needed to see that the body was not there … they needed to experience that hope firsthand.  The stone is still rolled away … the tomb is still open.  Are you ready to look inside?  What hope do you desperately need?  You will find the hope that you need when you look into the tomb.  “He has risen.  He is not here.”  Happy Easter.  It is a glorious day!  Amen.





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